It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

EVEN THEN ~ A Short Story by Lorraine Smith

My post today is a short story, a first one written by a British friend, Lorraine Smith. Lorraine is a working Mum, and lives in Surrey (UK) with her husband and their baby daughter. If you enjoy blogs that offer breaths of fresh air, Lorraine's posts on 'Gin and Cornflakes' is one that I highly recommend. The link is provided after her story.

Even Lorraine's bio has the flair of fresh air:

"My heart belongs in the Cotswolds where I grew up, and hope to return one day. I'm a qualified lawyer and reflexologist, and have recently completed a wine course (purely for the education and NOT the tasting, of course...?). I started writing in December last year, and haven't yet stopped. I blog about being a Mum - how fab it is, but also how hard it is sometimes. I haven't got the time or the energy to want it all - I just want a bit of everything!"

Thank you, Lorraine, for allowing me to post your beautiful short story on Treasured Encounters. 'Even then...' is powerful and continues to touch me  deeply, in a more sweet than bitter way.


Even then…
I remember the first time I saw him - Jack. The garden at my Nan’s house. The horse chestnut tree. I had a couple of conkers and was sticking dress pins into them to make furniture for the finger dolls my Nan had knitted me. He had climbed over the fence from next door to see what new treasures he could find. He rolled his eyes at my craft. Sparkling eyes, full of life. Mischievous; playful. Conkers were for baking in the oven to harden, and then hung on string for playground games. Not for dolls’ houses. He stuffed a few into his pocket, taking a doll too for good measure, and with a wink scampered off. I knew he’d be back... Even then.
He was only a lad when he went off to fight. Sixteen. Full of schoolboy optimism. But he returned hardened by the horrors he had witnessed on the killing fields of France. A pawn in the playground games of fat majors with maps spread out on tables, plotting where young boys would lose their youth. His eyes were flat. Dull; serious. Medals earned were tossed in the fire. But memories are not so easily extinguished. They became the ashes that smothered his spirit and cast a dark cloud over his life. I thought my Jack might return though... Even then.
We were married, and life was hard but we had each other. And our two children – a girl and a boy to replace us both when we went on. Time passed, and the flashbacks became less frequent. But, as he aged, he lost the will to fight the thoughts that blighted his days. And then his winter years brought with them the coldest of all diseases: Dementia. I tried desperately to hold on to him, battling his demise. But Dementia is a determined enemy and, slowly, he slipped further away - sliding into an ignorance of life post playground. He became a child again. e beTimeHis illness erasing the scars of time; protecting him from his past. And I knew he wouldn’t be back... Even then.

But I came to accept our new reality. I played by the rules of Dementia’s game. I cared for him; mothered him; loved him. Dementia had won, but I would not be defeated. The memories I chose to cherish were those under the horse chestnut tree at my Nan’s. I found comfort in recounting those stories to our children, and to their children. Grandad. Dad. Jack. War hero and conker champion…. I treasured those thoughts, for it was when he was a child that I had first met him. And it was how I knew him when he died. In the pocket of the dressing gown he was wearing the day he left us, I found one of my knitted dolls. And so I knew he had never forgotten... Even then.

Lorraine's blog, Gin & Cornflakes - Mummy talk for the rest of us, can be visited here.

Connect with her as @gin_cornflakes on Twitter here.

Visit her Facebook page here.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

THE BRIDLE PATH - a Review by Kathy Jensen

Kathy Jensen is an avid reader and read 'The Bridle Path' in two afternoon sittings. She also happens to be my wonderful sister. Kathy has chosen to, as she says, "flex my writing muscles," by writing  this, her first book review:
'The Bridle Path, by Julia Hughes, provided me with a delightful, insightful journey of a woman adjusting to instant motherhood after a tragedy takes the lives of her brother and sister-in-law. Her nephew, Sebby, initially withdrawn and uncommunicative, begins to blossom and rediscover his joy in living when his Aunt Matilda buys a lovely home in Cornwall, exposing him to glorious vistas, fresh air, and new friends. Greg, who lives in a nearby farm, gifts Sebby with a horse, giving him opportunities to learn about responsibility and unconditional love.
     The characters are well-drawn, and as an American, much of my delight with this book entailed the descriptive countryside and the British nuances of personality. As the relationships evolve, in particular with Greg and Matilda, I felt myself totally drawn in and expectantly awaiting the outcomes.
     The Bridle Path was written in such a way that it was believable and satisfying when these characters come to love and support and appreciate each other.  
     An excellent read; I heartily recommend it to all!'
Available now at a special price: $.99  Click here
 Julia Hughes is the London born author of the Celtic Cousins' Adventures: A Raucous Time; A Ripple in Time; and An Explosive Time.
The Bridle Path is a stand alone romantic adventure set in the county of Cornwall.
"The Griffin Cryer" is an urban fantasy, soon to be joined by its stable mate, "The Griffin's Boy", in the near future.

Julia is a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words Competition:
     "The Griffin Cryer" for Best Fantasy
     Wren, one of the Celtic Cousin's in "A Ripple in Time" for Best Hero.

It's simple to log in, easy to vote!

Drop by her site,  for flavorful posts, features, book reviews and information regarding current and future projects.  Words Unlimited was designed to support the works of indie authors. WU features back stories of indie authors' books and a wonderful feature, 140 Little Words. Julia's door is always open for submissions!

Connect with Julia on Twitter:

Connect with Julia on Facebook:

My sister, Kathy Jensen, with Maggie, a rescued Cavalier Spaniel who lives with our good friend, Karin.